Thursday, October 11, 2007

Kaus Makes Matt Drudge Look Respectable. (Updated)

So far, Matt Drudge hasn't linked* to the National Enquirer story which alleges that John Edwards had an affair. Mickey Kaus is peeved:

Edwards Scandal(?) Update: Drudge isn't biting, at least not yet. A bizarre number of people, including several kf emailers, seem to think that you just can't have a sex scandal unless Drudge is driving it. In part because they assume he has a low evidentiary threshhold, he's become something like the new accepted Arbiter of Truth. No Drudge, no story! But--from what I can tell--Drudge doesn't link to lots of stories, for both traditional (evidence, relevance) and idiosyncratic reasons.

Kaus, who has never met a paper-thin rumor he couldn't blow out of proportion, declines to mention the likely reason that Drudge hasn't pushed the story: Drudge, and to a lesser extent Kaus, have been burned before, and in a big honking way.

Remember Alexandra Polier? She's now a freelance journalist, but back in 2004 she had the good fortune to intern for then-Presidential nominee John Kerry, who, it was rumored, was having an affair with the young woman. Here's how Drudge, who blew the lid off the story, reported it at the time:

“A frantic behind-the-scenes drama is unfolding around Sen. John Kerry and his quest to lockup the Democratic nomination for President, the drudge report can reveal.

“Intrigue surrounds a woman who recently fled the country, reportedly at the prodding of Kerry, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

“A serious investigation of the woman and the nature of her relationship with Sen. John Kerry has been underway at TIME magazine, ABC NEWS, the WASHINGTON POST, THE HILL and the ASSOCIATED PRESS, where the woman in question once worked.

“MORE [!]

“A close friend of the woman first approached a reporter late last year claiming fantastic stories—stories that now threaten to turn the race for the presidency on its head!

“In an off-the-record conversation with a dozen reporters earlier this week General Wesley Clark plainly stated: ‘Kerry will implode over an intern issue.’ [Three reporters in attendance confirm Clark made the startling comments.]

“The Kerry commotion is why Howard Dean has turned increasingly aggressive against Kerry in recent days, and is the key reason why Dean reversed his decision to drop out of the race after Wisconsin, top campaign sources tell the DRUDGE REPORT.”

Kaus pushed it, too, with what Bob Somerby memorably called "thigh-rubbing glee." He cut 'n' pasted a six-year-old piece from The Boston Herald -- otherwise known as Jules Crittenden Weekly -- as proof that Kerry was prone to affairs:

Question of the day: Who was the statuesque blonde strutting out of Sen. John Kerry’s palatial Louisburg Square manse late Monday night when Kerry’s wife, heiress Teresa Heinz, was on Nantucket?

We are told she is [name omitted] a 22-year-old Harvard student and former model who, Kerry’s people claim, was dropping off a resume.

Our spies on the Square say the stunning Southern gal, dressed in oh-so-chic black, arrived at Kerry’s townhouse around 11:15 p.m. and left just before the clock struck 12.


Which leads us to ask: In the age of Monica Lewinsky, is it smart for a senator with presidential aspirations to be entertaining attractive women when the wife is away?

“He was very kind to me. He offered to pass my resume along,” [the student] told the Track.

The Georgetown grad said she was not at Kerry’s home at midnight—more like 10:45 p.m.—and that she would have dropped off the resume earlier except that it was locked in her brother’s apartment.

Both [the student] and Kerry’s people insist the encounter was completely innocent. They said the senator met [the student] on Nantucket earlier this summer, then again last weekend. ... [end of Kausfiles cut-and-paste]

Noted Somerby, "It’s a gossip item, from the Boston Herald—an item published six years ago. Mickey hopes you’ll think all about it."

In the end, the Kerry-intern story was proven to be nonsense, and Drudge, to his credit, seemed a bit chastened:

My final call, inevitably, had to be to Matt Drudge, who said he couldn’t talk for long as his father had just arrived for the weekend. In fact, we spoke for nearly 40 minutes. “In retrospect, I should have had a sentence saying, ‘There is no evidence to tie Alex to John Kerry.’ I should have put that,” he told me. Then he added, “If Clark had not gone out there and said, ‘Kerry is going to bomb,’ I never, ever, would have gone anywhere near this.”
Kaus, apparently, has learned nothing.

UPDATE: *Drudge picked up the denial.

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